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My personal story on crime prevention

Octavia Nkosi, South Africa: Personal story on community crime and women
I grew up in the deep rural area where there was no light or a cellphone, and due to that it was difficult to deal with crime. The offender would be arrested using a sangoma (traditional doctor)or following the footsteps if not he will go scot-free. Today these steps are said to be unreliable and inadmissible evidence before the court of law. So a new way has to be developed lest we die in anguish and ignorance, but thanks to the new technology, the cellphone and internet.

The only way to alert neighours of crime in your household was to bang a tins sheet metal object hard and scream but sometimes that might expose you to danger as the criminal would easily identify where you are and how many are you. As you know a lot of men are working in the cities and towns, it is only women and kids remaining behind. A plan came that we should use cellphone with the hardship it has; there is only house where we all charge them during the day and not everyone has got one. Then an idea came that we open a kraal and let loose of the cows so that as they bellows, they disturb the quietness and neighbor from far and on the side of the river can hear cows sound and respond. Remember even today police station and presence is still a problem. It takes 4 hours for police to arrive as they come from town 30 km away from the village. It is worse if you want to be taken to hospital, which is 23 km away, the ambulance would take up to 6 hrs to arrive. This is the rural area and its wonders. It is said that, ‘Out of a crisis, comes an opportunity’ and this is where new idea came about.

Eventually with the advent of democracy, women initiated a neighborhood watch committee (Community Police Forum, CPF) and the council, the chief approved it and now things are bit different. We started banging the sheet metal and let cows bellows, but of late we respond to crime by sending an sms to the teacher - has a laptop. He would wake up at night responding to the beep in his celphone, on the laptop; locate the caller and the village. In less than 5 seconds he dispatch sms to all ward village member groups giving the name of the family that send SOS (save our souls) call. Action is taken and crime is dealt with. However women are not always trusted, because the committee end up getting involved in uncalled for disputes such as lover quarrel, family disagreement and spouse issues which do not necessarily involve crime. The following day, the same women we were helping would be first one to drop the charges against family member or a spouse and instead open the case against the committee. As we are closer to Mozamique and Swaziland border gates, there is influx of migrants who come for work on mines and farms, they too become victims of circumstances, they are accused by women of rape, robbery, and sexual assault, and when we intervene and got the ‘victim’ arrested, the same women would drop charges the following day. My plea to women is we need to be honest and firm, this is the only we can deal well with crime and gender based violence and the only way to keep committee function well.
This has caused the committee to lose the few men we have in the committee, even the chief and the police no longer take us serious thus we need to improve our working relations with them. Have been a member of the Voice, I had introduced the Wes 2.0 to the committee and we find it cheap to use and communicate. Thanks to Zoe and the team who made this happened. Today download successful women stories around the globe and we learn everyday of new ways to improving our lives, our safety, our community struggles and our families.


EmmaKWin's picture

Octavia, Thank you for


Thank you for sharing your description and thoughts about the problem of crime in your area. You did a good job of summarizing the problems faced--particularly by women--in getting help when they are in danger of violent crimes.

However, I wish you had followed this week's prompt and talked about barriers girls in your community face that make it hard for them to obtain an education.


CMedansky's picture

Community Crime and Women

Thank you so much for sharing this article. It is wonderful to hear how increasing access to communications technology and digital media is empowering women and contributing to women and children’s safety in your community! You have such a clear and powerful voice, and I really am curious to know from you what impact crime and other barriers has preventing you or young women in your community from accessing education and the solutions you’ve found for overcoming them. I look forward to reading more of your posts!

J écoute's picture

Thank you for posting your

Thank you for posting your story and struggles and I hope to hear more from you regarding accessing information and education. What forms of education are available to you and the women in your community?

J écoute

Anita Muhanguzi's picture

Thank you

Dear Octavia thank you for posting about the challenges you face in your community. It is good to know that women have taken control of their own security. Stay blessed my dear and continue to update us about the developments of women issues in your community.

Mrs. Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Head of Legal and Advocacy
Centre for Batwa Minorities
Skype: mrs_muhanguzi

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